Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Lift

I love, love, love my new job. I love how technical the work is. I’m learning so much about...well, so much. I feel alive, alive alive!

Having said that, I will now say that I can’t believe I couldn’t see the stress I was under at my old job. I became very depressed and thought I was disinterested in most of the things that I love, but the truth is that the damn job was draining me of every ounce of energy I had.

Tonight I visited the boxing gym and had the most incredible, physically challenging, unstoppable, crazy workout I have had in a long time. I was there for two hours, all of which was spent working out.

I just feel awesome and it’s because I removed myself from a horrible situation.

This week I’m finally going to thank Clay for all of his support and stop my therapy with him. He has been wonderful for me these past couple of years and I’m going to miss him, greatly. Last time I saw him, I expressed that to him and he said he would miss me, too. It has been time for me to let go of Clay for at least a year and I’m going to do it, now, solely because he doesn’t take my new insurance, a blessing in disguise, really. I would stay if he took my new insurance. I guess money (or potential lack thereof) really is a great motivator. I don’t want to pay his full fee. I hate goodbye. Goodbye, to me, conjures up suppressed thoughts of death.

What I am going to do is begin to meditate, hopefully with a different therapist who also specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy. I have become aware that I am completely reluctant to let go of my grief and I need someone to help move me through this final (hopefully) difficult stage.

This semester, I have been studying stress and it’s management, which includes meditation and guided imagery. Our text book includes examples, and our professor guided us through a meditation last night. What I have found is that when I completely relax my body, my mind relaxes, and my grief and any guilt I normally feel and my reluctance to let go are virtually nonexistent. But the mental block I am experiencing causes me to resist all of these wonderful methods of relaxation, and so I need somebody else to require and help me to push through, in much the same way a personal trainer requires a client to perform at his highest level of functioning.

I have changed my life drastically in the past year. I began seriously pushing myself physically, I moved to a city I have always wanted to live in, I fulfilled a promise to my husband and left the job I took to support us...the “cancer-job” as it were., at the “death-company. “ My home is different. My workplace is different, I am in the best physical shape of my life. It’s my brain’s turn, now. Choosing to continue to allow myself to experience the levels of sadness and grief I have been feeling is putting me at physical risk for heart disease, a heart attack, cancer and all those diseases that feed on stress.

So, there it is. I’m not quite sure how to proceed. Bravely, I guess.

In the meantime, I’m just going to enjoy the lift of these past few days, the absence of tears, my hope for a happy future that is void of guilt.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two Halves of a Person

Friday was my last day at work. I got a great new job that pays more and that matches my personality more closely than my former company. I’m beginning day one of this new job by gettng on an airplane and flying to Arizona for their annual sales meeting. To say that the days leading up to this trip have been stressfull is a gross understatement. I’m nervous as can be.

Beyond that, and because my blog is the only entity that doesn’t judge me for still feeling the hit from my husband’s death, this change has illicited yet another grief reaction. Just when I thought I had done absolutely evertying in my life at least once since Chris died, here I am standing at the gate of another first. When will it end?

Six years ago, when I left company #1 for the first time after being there for nine years, I swore to God and to Chris that I would never walk through it’s doors again. Since we can never know what curve balls life will hand us, I left on a good note in the event that I should ever need to return. I did need to return. I took back my old job when Chris got sick because I knew it paid enough to enable me to support the two of us so Chris could quit his job and focus on getting well. Company #1 took me back in a heartbeat.

Chris wasn’t happy about my return because he knew that job wasn’t the best fit for me and he made me promise to leave it as soon as he was healhty, again. He never got healthy again, and even though I thought I would leave immediately after his death, years would go by before I, myself, felt well enough to make a move. I made that move this past Friday.

Today, I’m boarding a flight to Arizona where I will meet all of my coworkers for the first time. How scary is that? I’m nervous, but happy.

I fulfilled another promise to my husband, which doesn’t bring me too much satisfaction, since he’s not here to share my joy and sense of accomplisment. Still, a promise is a promise.

These days I seem to be a walkiing, breathing (barely) grief-reaction and I don’t know how much longer I can remain in this state of sadness. Am I destined to be two halves of a person, forever? The happy half and the grief-stricken, panicked half?

The next few days will be wonderful. Getting to know people is a strength for me and I’m so very happy to not be returning to the stringent constraints of a workplace where textiles precede over intelect.

I’m off to the airport in jeans, a blouse and a sweater, and nobody at this new job is going to judge or chide me for that.

Chris would be very proud of me, today.


Friday, January 11, 2008

Low Key, High Spirits

The train boarded mid-November, as it does each year, and after Thursday, I will have reached my destination at Wedding Anniversary Depot, after which I will place Grief-Relapse 2008 (GR-08) into the archives along with GR-04 through GR-07.

Anybody who says grief gets easier with time has probably never lost a spouse.

My tears no longer remain round-the-clock, nor do they flow as often, but when they flow, they flow with the same intensity as when this crazy train-ride began, on November 19, 2003. The moment I sat with Chris in the examination room, fighting the stream of information coming from his doctor’s mouth, will forever be embedded in the crack within my fractured brain, spackled over with plaster-of-denial. Each year, I need to perform preventative maintenance to keep the sadness, horror and panic of that day and the year and a half that followed packed into the crack where it remains contained well enough to allow me to live my life without Chris.

I have been hailed by many since that day, honored with words such as “courageous”, “brave”, “strong”, “amazing” and the like. Those who hail me only see what I show. Those verbal medals of honor don’t stick when I close the door behind me upon my return from work each evening.

My very busy and enjoyable life keeps me acutely aware of the emotional benefits of a change in cognition. Since Chris died, I have sought, found and earned two new jobs, each more rewarding than the last. I have performed in four stage productions, began boxing, worked my jogging distance up to seven miles, moved to two apartments in two cities, again each nicer and more befitting to me than the last.

Forward movement has never been a problem for me, and for that I have my father to thank. That man never stops moving forward. Despite my adolescent misdiagnosed hatred toward him (It was really just anger. Who knew?), we share the same genetic makeup. Whenever I feel limited, in any way, I remember that my father returned to school and earned his masters degree at age 62, and then nailed a management position at 64. Who am I to deny that anything is possible?

So, even though I returned home from work last night and paced around my apartment, and ate more than I should have in an attempt to push my grief back down into the black depths, anguish enveloped me and dragged me down...but only for a few moments. I patted my tears dry, changed my shoes and headed out for another audition, where I got to stand on stage and sing in front of a panel of auditors (my favorite thing to do). Case in point: changed cognition changed the course of my evening, if only for a while. I rode the high for a few hours before the undercurrent returned and dragged me under for another hour. Sleep came to my rescue and I awoke to a new day and now the rain is outside my window instead of inside my mind and body.

God, the rain outside my Dickens-esque windows is far too beautiful for me to believe. This morning’s plan is to take a nice, long run around the Charles River in that rain, read for my psychology class, study some computer code for my new job and head out for a haircut.

Low key high spirits is today’s motto. I know enough about my emotional rubble by now to understand that “today” is as far in advance as I can plan.

That’s good enough for me, as long as I get to feel happy sometimes.